This was my hope when we boarded the plane from Vancouver to Maui. I mean, it’s Hawaii, right? The land of pools to splash in and beaches full of sand just ready for digging. It’s a toddler’s dream!

Well, yes. The little man does love the pool and he does love the beach, but it doesn’t seem these things are enough to end the whining phase of our child-rearing journey.

Mr. Awesome and I had some delusional notion that traveling to Hawaii with a three year old and a six month old would still be a VACATION. Well, it seems that word’s definition has changed a little in our family dictionary. We leave Maui tomorrow and we’ve done just about everything we wanted to do but it hasn’t been exactly restful. We’re not a sit around all day type of family anyway, but we REALLY could have done without the tantrums and whining 90% of the waking hours we spent in the condo. Literally, the second we stepped in the door. Every time. It’s like our house, and whatever vacation accommodation we choose, seems to have a whining force-field imperceptible to the parent’s eye.

Our typical day was an activity or beach in the morning and then back to the condo for lunch, praying for nap time, then a swim in the pool before dinner. Here are some of the highlights:

On the second day of our trip, while we were still waking up three hours ahead, we got up at 3am and drove the 10,023 vertical feet to the top of Haleakala crater to watch the sunrise. It was spectacular. Freezing, but spectacular.

Just like every three year old boy on the planet, the little man is very into trains, Thomas, etc. This meant we were pretty much obligated to take him on the Sugar Cane Train. Okay, he’s three and probably would never have known the difference but being the fantastic parents we are, we decided to go for it. He fell asleep. The little bugger won’t nap for any level of bribery, but we shell out $40 (with the coupon) to get us all aboard and HE FELL ASLEEP! He slept the whole two hours we walked around Lahaina and then did manage to wake up and enjoy the return train ride. It was a pretty cool little excursion in the end, and I would definitely recommend timing it with a stop for walking around Lahaina.

One morning while we were still staying on the West side of the island, we decided to bend the rules of the rental car company (I swear, they never explicitly said not to do this) and drive around the West Maui mountains. This was probably my favourite part of our entire trip. It’s not a long drive distance-wise, but 75% of the drive between Kapalua and Kahului is single-lane, brushing the bushes on the side of the road, praying another car doesn’t come in the opposite direction, thrilling.

PLUS, there is this awesome little bright green stand on the side of the road selling knock-you-down delicious banana bread. (Definitely worth the extra WW points that day!) I have driven the road to Hana before, but I actually enjoyed this more. It was shorter, which was great for the kids, and making a full circuit around that end of the island is actually enjoyable, unlike the back side of the Hana trip (which also violates rental car contracts…I’m such a badass). Most people turn around just past Hana and do the same 3hr drive back the way they came. Boring! On a trip a few years ago, my mom and I decided to keep going past Hana, and all I can truly remember is the numbness in my hands from gripping the steering wheel over miles and miles of unpaved road. I only found out this trip that if Mom and I had broken down out there, there is no cell service and tow trucks will not come get you on that side of the island. NOT something I want to experience with two small children.

It turned out two of our friends were on Maui with their 8.5 month old at the same time as we were, so among other get-togethers we all went to the Hyatt Regency Kaanapali for the Drums of the Pacific luau. This one was recommended to me by the representative at our timeshare and I have to say she was right, no matter what kickbacks she may have received (I’m such a skeptic). The food was good, the drinks were unlimited, it was a pretty darn good show, and the fire knife dancer was awesome. The little man LOVED it, and didn’t stop dancing or clapping the whole night. Totally worth it.

Our trip included a lot of “When the kids are older we’ll do this again” conversations, as some of our activities were rushed or cut short because of the sleeping babes in the back seat (the one place the little man will consistently nap). One such instance was when we drove through Up Country Maui, something I would definitely recommend.

We started in Paia, home of Mama’s Fish House, Charleys (Willie Nelson’s favourite restaurant) and some of the best wind-surfing beaches on the island. It’s a funky, eclectic little old plantation town and we will return one day to wander the shops, have a meal and explore a bit. Apparently Mama’s Fish House is the best restaurant on the island and the seafood is “three hours from ocean to plate,” according to the lady at our timeshare. A definite must-do for next time. From there we drove through (again, no stopping for us on this trip) Makawao, an old ranching town. It looks like an awesome little place with some cute boutiques and great galleries, but it was gone in a blur as we continued on our way.

We visited Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm but it’s not blooming season for the lavender. They do have lovely gardens but we didn’t explore too far with the munchkins in tow. They also have a nice gift shop, so we’re taking home some smelly treats.

Next stop on the Up Country trip was Surfing Goat Dairy. We will likely go back here next time (notice a trend?) and do the full tour, but we arrived 30 minutes before the next one and the little man wasn’t in a place to wait around. We did buy some goat cheese that they SAY will last through the flight home, so we’ll hopefully not unpack to find a mushy rotten mess. We ended the day at Tedeschi Winery to buy some pineapple wine – YUM. We also picked up a bottle of their raspberry dessert wine – DOUBLE YUM. Holy cow is that stuff delicious. One word of warning: No matter what your GPS says, there is no road back down to Wailea or Kihei without going back through Kahului. Trust me on this. Our GPS tried five times to make us take various non-existent or dead end routes, insisting we U-turn at every intersection. It would be nice if there was, but no.

One excursion that was a wee bit disappointing was the Iao Valley. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely beautiful, but there really isn’t much there outside the 100m paved loop and the lookout to view the Iao Needle. We did find out later that there are some great hikes past the main area, but we weren’t exactly in a position to go exploring. Again…next time! I think if we’d only planned for a short visit instead of expecting a morning’s activity it would have been better. But again, extraordinarily beautiful scenery.

We head home this evening on an overnight flight. This could either be very good or very, very bad. The little miss will will likely be fine in her scary airplane bassinet (see picture), but it’s the little man I’m worried about. We check in in just over an hour and we still haven’t fully decided if we’re going to put him in his car seat or not. I think he’ll sleep better without it, but it’s anyone’s guess.

Yes, we’ve been very busy this trip but it has been an awesome vacation. And as you can tell, we have a heck of a lot to do next time we come here!

Wish me luck on the flight. See you in Vancouver!